Editor's WordGovernmentLeadership
January 4, 2019

Tackling the challenge of multi-level governments

Canada is governed by multiple levels of governme­nt, which is evident by the national makeup of ten provinces, three territories, and many municipalities. As a federal state, the authority of government is divided.

The main difference between provincial and territorial governments is by what authority they are governed. Provinces receive their power and authority from the Constitution Act, 1867, while territorial governments have powers appointed to them by the Parliament of Canada. Through the Constitution Act, provinces are sovereign in certain areas based on the divisions of responsibility between the provincial and federal government. On the other hand, territories are not sovereign since their authorities and responsibilities derive directly from the federal level.

Governing a nation like Canada can be considerably challenging, and not just because of the breakout of provincial and territorial governments as mandated by law; by adding the governing political parties into the mix, this challenge becomes even more prominent.

In this issue of Canadian Government Executive, we highlight a mechanism that is built within our governmental system to tackle this challenge. It is known as the First Ministers’ Meeting (FMM). Jenn Wallner, Associate Professor with the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, writes that the FMM is only one cog in the network of Canada’s intergovernmental machinery, but it is a vital one. The purpose of these meetings is to provide the leaders of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments with the opportunity to meet face-to-face to share challenges and issues facing Canadians and what solutions they can employ to govern their respective regions. Wallner points out that these interactions between First Ministers help to build trust, foster a sense of a shared mission, and potentially increase empathy.

Lori Turnbull, Deputy editor of CGE, in summing up this issue’s theme on multi-level governance, describes in the Last Word how the political landscape has changed considerably since the federal Liberal government was elected. Building provincial partnerships is getting more difficult with the shift in governments, which points to a stronger need for intrastate federalism.

Conventional intelligence gathering is a valuable part of insights in decision-making, but more often than not, it is expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to compare across geography and periods. Christopher Lau from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Growth makes the point that it is time to start thinking about non-conventional intelligence gathering to aid in local insights. He makes the case that this will help departments and governments who are willing to try this route get better intelligence faster and at less cost.   

John Glowacki, former COO of Shared Services Canada (SSC), explains how the consolidation of services among Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), SSC and Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) (including Canadian Digital Service) is a “low hanging fruit” opportunity for the Government of Canada. This current model – each department having its own hierarchy with different mandates, agendas, cultures and resources – has resulted in excessive delay and extra cost. He points out that the only organization mandated to run GC IT services as an enterprise is SSC, and as such, the logical step is to consolidate to SSC. He proposes some recommendations on how this can be achieved and the benefits of consolidation.

Other articles in this issue touch on performance-based budgeting, relationship building with Indigenous Peoples, how the digital government in Canada is moving from good to great, Mark Zuckerberg’s democratic dilemma, and transforming leadership.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Canadian Government Executive – Volume 24 – Issue 06

About this author

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Marcello Sukhdeo

Marcello is responsible for content strategy for Canadian Government Executive, IT in Canada Online and WRLWND and also is the host of WRLWND Radio. An avid technology enthusiast, he has worked on content leadership strategies for a number of industries including the public sector, life science, technology and defence.

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